Edinburgh Festival Fringe through the years: Here are 20 fascinating pictures of performers and venues in the 1950s and 1960s
After two years of cancellations, scaling back and social distancing, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is back – here we take a look at what the feast of arts looked like during the first 20 years of its history.
Taking place (almost) every August, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival, with more than 55,000 performances of 3,548 shows at the 2018 edition.
The Fringe started life when eight theatre companies turned up uninvited to the first Edinburgh International Festival in 1947, using several smaller venues in the city to stage their productions – as well as attracting audiences across the Forth with a play in Dunfermline Abbey.
The first programme fo the event was printed in 1954, the first central booking service in 1955 and the Festival Fringe Society – who still organise the festival today – were formed in 1959.
It remains an open access performing arts festival, meaning there is no selection committee and that anybody can participate.
While the early years were dominated by theatre and late-night revue shows, comedy has come to the forefront since the late 1980s – partly due to the impact of the Perrier Award, which launched the careers of a string of high-profile performers, including Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Sean Hughes, Frank Skinner, Jenny Eclair, Steve Coogan, Dylan Moran, The League of Gentlemen, and Lee Evans.
Now called the Edinburgh Comedy Award, it's still awarded every year, with Jordan Brookes the last winner for his show ‘I've Got Nothing’.
Here are 20 pictures to take you back to the events held over half a century ago – including some famous faces.